Almighty and everlasting God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reign with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen.
It’s interesting that those who put our readings together have chosen on this Sunday not to tell the story of Palm Sunday and of Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem. We know that Jesus and his disciples had spent the previous evening in Bethany at the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. The nest morning Jesus had ridden into the city on a donkey and the people hailed him and proclaimed his King of the Jews.
But what I have chosen today to do is not to look at the Palm Sunday story, but rather to the second coming of Jesus as recorded in the Book of the Revelation. John wrote, “…I saw a vast crowd, too great to count…standing in front of the throne and before the lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands.” Surely, John is remembering Jesus’ first triumphant entry as he describes his vision of the second entry.
He paints us a picture those whose robes had been washed in the blood of the lamb and made white; and I believe there are three things we might say about the second coming. First, we will better understand the greatness of God and his grace. Second, we will see our own sin in the light of God’s holiness. Finally, at that great triumphal gathering, we will begin to experience a life that we may never dared to imagine.
On that day you and I will truly realize that we stand before God only by the blood of Christ; and we will realize that it is not due to any of our own efforts, but by God’s grace. Our struggles will be behind us. This past year has been filled with all sorts of struggles, of disappointments and frustrations but that will all go away following Christ’s second coming. John describes those in the white robes who have “come through the tribulation” as those who have survived the trials of this life and remained faithful. It is their example that can motivate you and me to face the various obstacles that we face each day. When one operation is followed by another; when one debt is paid off just as another raises its ugly head; when the items on our “to do” list never seem to end; and when we survive one crisis just to be overcome by another.
Paul says he has fought the good fight and finished the race. He had kept the faith. He didn’t say the fight had been easy, but he was still standing. What was it that kept Paul going? What is it that keeps you and me going? It is knowing that one day we will stand before the throne of God. The race will be over; we will have crossed the finish line and we will know that it was all worth the effort.
Finally, at the great triumphant gathering we will begin to experience a life that we never dared to imagine because we are told that there would be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. John was describing a day when all our needs will be satisfied. We will no longer need to battle the forces of nature. No more climate change, no more freezing storms, no more floods or droughts. Nature will yield only to our joy.
There will no longer be a reason to cry…except for joy. No more sorrow, no more disappointment, no more loss. We will never have to bury a loved one again. Old scares will be healed and old guilts will be silenced. There will be no more hurtful words, no more hated or jealousy. On that day, hearts will be filled with joy because will be in the very presence of God.
When you and I think about the day when we will be led by the Lamb of God… we too will find ourselves lifting our palm branches and singing hosanna to the King of Kings with all those who will stand before the throne of God. And we will truly wish to say with all our heart, God is good…all the time.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
“My Jesus, I belie that you are present in the holy sacrament of your body and blood. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this time receive you sacramentally, I invite you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were here with me and I unite myself with you fully. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
A Prayer for the Church and Benediction:
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.